Twelve French wine sellers have been convicted of passing off wine produced near Toulouse as a higher quality Pinot Noir before selling it on to an American wine distributor. "Worse than a faux pas, that embarrassing slip of the tongue, this was a case of faux Pinot Noir, involving French wine traders and vintners that duped California giant E&J Gallo Winery. The faked red wine produced more than a blush. A court in the medieval town of Carcassonne in southwest France has convicted a dozen people in the scheme in which local wine exported to the U.S. was passed off as more expensive Pinot Noir. The scheme hit every level of the chain that takes the wine from the vine and gets it to U.S. consumers. Claude Courset of the Ducasse wine trading company, portrayed as the kingpin of the scheme, was given the stiffest sentence in Wednesday's decision, a six-month suspended prison term and a $61,000 fine. 'Our wines are irreproachable,' he said Thursday, adding he may appeal. The company that sold Ducasse's wine in the United States, Sieur d'Arques, was fined $244,000."